Friday, May 28, 2010

Bye-bye, BOA!

I am ecstatic to announce that we got our house refinanced. We are DONE with Bank of America! Dave Ramsey calls them, "The old Boa" and that's what it felt like..... Like they were constantly squeezing us to death financially.
Not that we owe any less, we are just now with a local bank. We were very, very happy with the process, and dealing with Chad Oehlert at Citizen's State Bank in Paola. He was very helpful, explaining everything, patiently enduring all my questions, and finding answers on anything he didn't know. I highly recommend them - and the best part is, they won't sell our loan. So if we have problems or questions, we call the bank at Paola and talk to someone we know. That alone was worth any closing costs. (Which were half of any other quote I've gotten.) And we didn't have to pay any of those out of pocket.
We got an appraisal on the house, and it was actually less than the one we got last year when we tried to refinance, but still enough that we own 22% equity in our house. So that means NO MORE PMI!!!!
In case you aren't familiar with what PMI is, it's an "insurance" you're required to pay if you don't have a big downpayment for your house. It should be illegal. Because you sign your property as collateral, yet they still charge you this insurance in case you don't make your payments. So they take something monthly from you "in case" and will take your house, too, if you get behind. Complete crap, in my book. And we've paid Bank of America over $4000 in this required "insurance." Money which we will never get back, even though we were always early with our payments.
Anyhow. I'm excited about it. We're saving about $200 a month, and if we keep paying ahead, we'll pay off the house early and save something like $70,000 in interest. And I tell you what, the thought of being completely debt-free gets me downright giddy with excitement.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Sold!

Normally, I'm not one to jump on a new-product bandwagon. But there are two things that I've tried this week that I'm in love with.
The first is a new product from Goody - you know them, the company that pretty much owns the hair accessory department in most stores (brushes, ponytails, clips, headbands.... you name it, they got it). It's called a "Spin Pin" and I actually bought it because of a commercial I saw for it (something I never do).
The only way I've been wearing my hair lately is up-up-and-away.... Out of Jacob's grasp. He is obsessed with hair, and will pull mine out by the handfuls if he gets ahold of it. (And I swear, every hair he's pulled is coming back in gray!) I've been putting it in the ugly twisted pony, or whatever they call it. You know how you do it... Put your hair in a ponytail, pull it through partway, twist it and wrap the elastic around it again.... Except I can't make mine look nearly as secure and elegant as most girls do. Mine is definitely frumpy.
So when I saw the commercial for them, I thought I'd give it a try. Because my hair is too thick and heavy to stay put in a ponytail or bun with bobbypins all day (at least not comfortably).
I bought them Sunday, and have worn them all day, every day since then. Okay, so it's only 3 days, but three days of not fussing with my hair every hour made up my mind for me.
To show you.... Today, I put my hair up about noon. It took me about 30 seconds... I twisted it, put a pin in from the top and bottom, and that was it.
(Obviously not going for any stylist awards here.)
Nine hours later - after housework, a trip to the doctor in KC, driving in rush hour traffic, praise team practice, driving home with the windows down, and spending a little time outside, not to mention all the other things Mommys do, it still looked like this.
The only drawbacks I can think of is your hair has to be somewhat long. And they are a bit pricey - $6 for two. But if it keeps me from being snatched bald (and looking more elegant while doing so), it's probably worth it.
So there ya go, Goody. Enjoy the free advertising.
The second thing that I'm now completely sold on is Magic Erasers. (I think they're by Mr. Clean brand.) My best friend Brooke has sworn on how they work for years, and I finally tried them out this week.
I originally bought some almost a year ago, after one of the boys I babysit scribbled with pen on the cover of Nathan's white baby book. A combination of fear of ruining the cover by scrubbing on it, and just procrastination (out of sight, out of mind) meant that they were still in the box in the cabinet under the kitchen sink.
I brought home some chairs from the church nursery to see if I could clean 30 years of toddler use off them. I tried everything - Comet, 409, two natural cleaners, and Magic Eraser.
Incidentally, none of these worked on the chairs. The eraser just shredded on the texture. The only thing that worked was straight bleach. Straight. My hands smelled lovely for the next two days.
But while I was bent over the bathtub cleaning these chairs, I figured since I'd gotten it out, and the tub was gross, I'd see how they worked.
Apparently I have a white tub.
I've thought that it was ivory, because that's what color it has been ever since we bought the house 5 1/2 years ago. That Magic Eraser took off the soap scum, the black buildup from our gross feet, and all the water residue from splashing on the walls and the crusty buildup on the faucets. I've used several products on our shower over the years, and nothing has done that - I previously had used the Comet powder, because of everything, it did the best.
And the other thing I really like about these is they don't have any odor. I looked it up, and apparently there's no odor, because there's no chemical. It's what the "eraser" is made of that makes it clean. Bonus.
And that ends my free advertising for Mr. Clean. I think I should be paid.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Make Daddy's Day

Go see him at work. (And bring food!)
(Even though you can't tell from any of them's expressions how happy they were to see each other.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Denim is not good workout wear.

Totally random title, I know. But that's the most recent thing I've learned - I realized it about a third of the way in to my 2 1/2 mile bike ride toting 50 pounds of kiddos in the trailer, while wearing jeans, and biking the uphill portion. And incidentally, I do now know where the term "uphill both ways" comes from.
It's been so long since I've written, I have no idea where to start. So I'll just start writing, and see where we end up.
Yesterday I had three fillings done at the dentist. Three. The last filling I had was in 2003. I hate the feeling of half your face being asleep for the rest of the day. And the rough feeling of your teeth from the spackle they put on them to fill them. And the feeling that I've got something stuck in my tooth. And I realized that that sound/sensation of the drill gives me goosebumps from my scalp to my ankles. (As does just thinking about it.)
My grandpa Carl had a stroke a week and a half ago. He went in for knee replacement surgery Monday morning, the 3rd, and Tuesday evening he had the stroke (caused by a blood clot from surgery). He went from not knowing who anyone was, but talking perfectly Tuesday night, to recognizing people but not being able to talk Wednesday. They just moved him yesterday to a rehabilitation center in Gardner. He understands everything, and knows where he is and what happened, and is getting his power of speech back, although he still has trouble getting out more than one word at a time. Incidentally, his knee is doing great - he can already bend it to 90 degrees, and even prop his ankle (on the "bad" knee) up on his other leg.
We're trying to refinance the house again. Last spring we tried to refinance, and interest rates rose 3/4 percent in a week, which made it so we wouldn't save enough money to make it worth it. But we found a local bank (in Paola) that will keep our loan local, and not sell it. Interest rates aren't quite as great as I'd hoped but we decided that it's worth it to get away from Bank of America!
Jacob has not been sleeping well at night for the last week. At all. He's waking up an average of 4 times, and then nurses for a half hour, which is leaving me SO TIRED. I can't figure out exactly what it is. He had majorly snotty eyes for a few days, so I thought he was getting sick. But he also is working on some new teeth. The drool! And when he wakes, his cry sounds so pathetic, like he's in pain. When I do give him Tylenol or ibuprofin, he sleeps for 4 hours, so I know something must be causing him pain. I think he may also be going through a growth spurt..... Or more accurately, is needing to eat more to grow than he gets during the day. He started crawling, sitting up, and trying to pull up all in the last two weeks, and this has opened the world up for him! He can't take time away from exploring in order to do something so trivial as eating. So he's trying to make up for it at night. Either way, I'm exhausted.
So naps have become my friend. Unfortunately, naps (no matter that your sum total of sleep for 24 hours, including the nap, only comes to 6 hours) keep me awake at night, hence the midnight entry.
We went on vacation to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri two weekends ago. It was their 50th anniversary celebration. Paul's parents and sister also went with us. It was a really great time. However, I told Paul we don't ever have to go on a "special event" weekend again. I don't like crowds, especially not with children to keep track of.
We stayed at a condo (owned by Hunter's Friend Resort) right on Table Rock Lake. It was awesome - three bedrooms with king size beds. We took over the "master suite" (which also had a jacuzzi), and Nathan had his own "room" - a walk-in closet, that obviously we didn't need. It was so nice to have a "home-like" place to crash, complete with a kitchen to cook our own meals. We will definitely be using them again - they have any range of places to stay, from simple motel rooms to fully stocked condos. And they're only 3 miles down the road from Silver Dollar City.
Nathan got really sick with a sinus infection and 102-degree fever the day before we left. Since it was too late to cancel our reservation, we decided to go anyways, even if it meant I'd stay at the condo with the kids - anything away from the house is still a vacation! He did great in the mornings until the first dose of ibuprofin wore off, which is when we headed back to the condo for naps. He still got to ride several childrens rides - his favorites being the Happy Frogs and the Wave Carousel (a giant version of the "county fair" type swings). By Saturday, the antibiotics had kicked in and he did much better, and Sunday we practically had to drag him out.
Sunday night was a special night of praise and worship at Echo Hollow (the amphitheater in SDC). It was such a special time for me. I really looked forward to it, because as a worship leader, I don't really get to participate in worship - which sounds weird. But when I "lead" on Sundays, I have to think about playing the piano, keeping the singers together, and how I sound. Rarely can I sing my heart out. When the music began, I had the overwhelming urge to stand to sing. Mostly I think because I can't stand to sing at church, because I have to sit at the piano. So after 3 songs, and no one was standing (most were sitting back to enjoy the 300-voice choir), I told Paul I was going to go over to the side so I could stand and sing my heart out without annoying those sitting around us. I spent most of the 90-minute praise time standing with my hands raised (another thing I can't do since I play the piano). It was a very awesome, very special time. God's presence was definitely there.
Well, I'm tired now, and my back is killing me from sitting in this chair. I think I've covered most of the high and low points of the last couple weeks. I've got other fodder I'm mulling over. We'll get there soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I do have a blog coming, I promise. It's been crazy since my last post. I've got a multitude of excuses:
  1. We were gone for 5 days. (Which did provide blog fodder... I'll get around to it.)
  2. Nathan was sick while we were gone, and he's still a bit "off" and wanting attention.
  3. My grandpa had a stroke the day after we got back, and has been in the hospital ever since.
  4. Jacob is getting sick and has been cranky.
  5. Jacob hasn't been sleeping at night for the last week - up every two hours for a half hour at least - so I haven't been sleeping well.
  6. So I've taken naps on the three days that I actually have had free time.
  7. We are in the middle of refinancing our house, so it seems like I'm endlessly on the phone, comparing numbers, or otherwise mulling the situation.

Are those good enough excuses?